With Parmesan-Encrusted Polenta and Grilled Pepper Salad

Adapted from: BBQ USA and How to Grill by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing)
Method: Direct
Yield: 8

2 red bell peppers
2 yellow or orange bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea), or more to taste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or slivered fresh basil

16 fresh Italian sausages, each about TK ounces each

1 1-1/2 pound package commercially prepared cooked polenta
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or another herb (optional)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high.

2. When ready to cook, place all the peppers on the grate and grill until the skins are blistered and charred on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes per side (16 to 24 minutes in all), turning with tongs. Transfer the hot peppers to a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Let the peppers cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Place the garlic and salt in a nonreactive mixing bowl and mash to a paste with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the vinegar and lemon juice and whisk until the salt is dissolved. Whisk in the oil and parsley.

4. Using the tip of a paring knife, scrape the burnt skin off the peppers and cut the flesh off the core. Cut the peppers into quarters or strips and arrange them on a platter, alternating pieces of different colors. Stir the dressing and spoon it over the peppers.

You can serve it right away with the sausages and polenta, or let it sit for a few hours (refrigerated) to let the flavors blend. Bring it to room temperature before topping it with the sausages.

5. Lay the sausages on the hot grill grate, and grill 2 to 3 minutes per side (8 to 12 minutes, total) or until an instant read meat thermometer inserted in the sausage (parallel to the grill) registers 160 degrees F. Place the hot sausages on top of the prepared peppers.

6. Meanwhile, while the sausages are cooking, lay the polenta slices on the hot grill grate and cook, 2 to 4 minutes per side, rotating a quarter turn after 1 minute, to achieve an attractive crosshatch pattern of grill marks. Remove to a plate or platter, and immediately sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top; a few grinds of black pepper are optional. Serve immediately.

© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort